Though the poet is three years dead, her shiny, sly, red-lipped brown face looks up at me in the morning from her book jacket by my bed. Her smile undresses all my foolishness.
Her name is Lucille Clifton, and if this were a wiser country, it would be known even to school children. I read her poems early in the morning and late at night, the way some people pray. Clifton’s poems are a lot like prayers. Prayers that bind together darkness and light. Racism and the need to remember, and to somehow forgive. Sexual abuse and the need to remember, and to somehow forgive the fatherperpetrator. Dying and the need to live.